The celebratory joy that Kentucky fans bring to the annual campout for Big Blue Madness tickets got an added dollop of sweetness Tuesday. The news that archrival Louisville was embroiled in a FBI investigation that resulted in charges of fraud and corruption in college basketball brought smiles to faces.
“It tickles me,” Mike Brumfield said.
Brumfield, 69, a retired postal worker from Lexington, expressed doubt that U of L Coach Rick Pitino would be unaware that $100,000 was paid for a highly regarded prospect, as alleged in a federal document released earlier in the day.
“Pitino never knows what’s going on,” Brumfield said in a skeptical tone of voice.
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Ruth Anne Hurst, 52, said the allegation, if true, should spell the end of Pitino’s coaching career. It comes two years after U of L was accused of using dancers and prostitutes in its recruiting.
When asked what would be a fitting punishment, Hurst said, “He should be kicked out of Kentucky.”
Recalling how Pitino left UK voluntarily for the Boston Celtics in 1997, Hurst said, “This time make sure he doesn’t come back.”
Brumfield called for the so-called death penalty, a suspension of the program for a period of time.
“If it’s proven they’ve done this, those coaches should get a very, very stiff penalty,” he said. “Maybe (Louisville) should get the death penalty for it. They should not be allowed to go on.”
Two fans suggested that the buying of players is business as usual in college basketball recruiting. Assistant coaches at Auburn, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Southern California were charged with federal crimes.
Dallas Hoskins, 52, who works in radio in Monticello, was not startled by the allegation that a player could be swayed by $100,000.
“That’s beans,” he said. “That’s small potatoes.”
Of the five-star recruit believed to be involved, Brian Bowen, Hoskins said, “That guy, to me, is well worth more than that.”
Marsha Poe, 59, said it would not be shocking to see a player’s services for sale.
“It’s the industry all together,” she said.
Poe, who works and lives in Louisville, was among fans who saw karma at work.
“I deal with Louisville fans all the time,” she said. “And they have said since John Calipari got here that we buy our players. I’ve heard it day in and day out.”
Asked if the news about Louisville made her happy, Poe said, “Only because of that.”
For Poe, the news about Louisville brought on a sense of déjà vu. She said that two years ago, as she packed up her camping equipment after getting Madness tickets, she heard news of Katina Powell’s book alleging Louisville used dancers/prostitutes in its recruiting.
Then came Tuesday’s news. “It’s like, are you kidding me?” Poe said.